Values Over Morals

Values are the qualities of a life lived fully from the inside out.
— Laura Witworth

Values Are Not Morals

When I told my wife about this topic she said “hmmmm…. I’m intrigued”. Chances are you might be thinking the same thing. So let’s take a look at why values and morals are different.

Think about some morals that you have. Virtuosity, honesty, compassion, and kindness are some that come to mind for me. All of these deal with ethical behavior. Right and wrong. That is why we say when someone acts unethically that their actions are immoral.

Now if morals deal with ethics, what are values? Values are the guiding principles that you live your life on. If I told you one of my values is timeliness, that would demonstrate itself by responding to emails quickly or being on time (or early) for meetings. If I constantly show up late, you would not say that I am unethical or immoral. I simply don’t have a value of timeliness. See the difference? Another example might be if you work with someone who is always guarded and that makes you frustrated or feel untrusting of them. They might have a value of extreme professionalism while you value openness.

Values show up in choices and choices are visible in behavior. One of your values could be living a moral life.

Clarifying Values

So how do we clarify values? Take a moment to use our convenient tool below to help gain some clarity on your values.

Now chances are you have a list of values. Take a moment to write those values out in a separate place. Are there any that are similar? Can you group them into a single idea?

One last thing, now that you have a consolidated list of your values, take a moment to rank them. Then you will have a guide by which you make choices.

Next Steps

  • If you are a leader, take some time to do this: when you are finished, a powerful next step is to share your values with your people.

  • If you are on a team, share your values with your peers and your leader(s).

  • Post your values at your workstation or office.

  • As you notice your feelings are strong (positively or negatively) toward an action or someone, take a moment to see if that is because iof one of your values. If you don’t find one, consider adding one to your ranked list.

Understanding your values is an important exercise. This is one of the first things you do in a coaching relationship. If you are interested in a free coaching session to reveal some of your values click the link to schedule a time.


When you are a first time leader, it can be daunting and stressful. Our New Leader Fundamentals online course helps to give you the tools to lead with impact from the start. Click the link to learn more.